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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
|Page 5 of 6||
'But how ever did Lootie come to let you go into the mountains alone?'he asked.
'Lootie knows nothing about it. I left her fast asleep - at least I think so. I hope my grandmother won't let her get into trouble, for it wasn't her fault at all, as my grandmother very well knows.'
'But how did you find your way to me?' persisted Curdie.
'I told you already,' answered Irene; 'by keeping my finger upon my grandmother's thread, as I am doing now.'
'You don't mean you've got the thread there?'
'Of course I do. I have told you so ten times already. I have hardly - except when I was removing the stones - taken my finger off it. There!' she added, guiding Curdie's hand to the thread, 'you feel it yourself - don't you?'
'I feel nothing at all,' replied Curdie. 'Then what can be the matter with your finger? I feel it perfectly. To be sure it is very thin, and in the sunlight looks just like the thread of a spider, though there are many of them twisted together to make it - but for all that I can't think why you shouldn't feel it as well as I do.'
Curdie was too polite to say he did not believe there was any thread there at all. What he did say was:
'Well, I can make nothing of it.'
'I can, though, and you must be glad of that, for it will do for both of us.'
'We're not out yet,' said Curdie.
'We soon shall be,' returned Irene confidently. And now the thread went downwards, and led Irene's hand to a hole in the floor of the cavern, whence came a sound of running water which they had been hearing for some time.
'It goes into the ground now, Curdie,' she said, stopping.
He had been listening to another sound, which his practised ear had caught long ago, and which also had been growing louder. It was the noise the goblin-miners made at their work, and they seemed to be at no great distance now. Irene heard it the moment she stopped.
'What is that noise?' she asked. 'Do you know, Curdie?'
'Yes. It is the goblins digging and burrowing,' he answered.
'And you don't know what they do it for?'
'No; I haven't the least idea. Would you like to see them?' he asked, wishing to have another try after their secret.
'If my thread took me there, I shouldn't much mind; but I don't want to see them, and I can't leave my thread. It leads me down into the hole, and we had better go at once.'
'Very well. Shall I go in first?' said Curdie.
'No; better not. You can't feel the thread,' she answered, stepping down through a narrow break in the floor of the cavern. 'Oh!' she cried, 'I am in the water. It is running strong - but it is not deep, and there is just room to walk. Make haste, Curdie.'
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